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The Beginner's Burning Man Checklist

Get ready for the scorch of the sun, radiant heat, smells of ganja and late nights and sun rise of Burning Man. For this trip, you need food and lots and lots of water for life in Black Rock Desert. Here is a checklist for first-time Burning Man partygoers:

Travel Supplies

Burning Man takes place a long way from any cities or towns, so don’t put yourself in a position to make the trip twice. Check and double check that you have your tickets with you. GPS and smartphone navigation is a must. Bring a spare car key, just in case, ensure your tires are in good shape and make sure your spare tire is ready for the job in case of flats. Also fill a small container with gas so you don’t run out.

One note of caution: While many festival goers take illegal substances to Burning Man every year, you have to drive through Nevada, which has some of the strictest drug laws in the country.

Camping Gear

The dust in Black Rock Desert is harsh and abundant, which is why many people take old or second-hand camping equipment that they don’t mind getting ruined. Bring a shade structure so you can escape from the desert sun whenever you want. While it’s hot most of the time on the Playa, it can become cold in the early morning hours, so a warm sleeping bag is a good idea unless you plan to camp in an RV. The Playa dust contains a high percentage of alkali, which can cause chemical burns on your feet, so be sure to bring plenty of water and vinegar to neutralize the burn on your skin.

Food and Water

What you bring in you must bring out, so be smart about what supplies you pack. If you plan to cook your own meals, a camp stove, pots and pans, and kitchen utensils are essential. Also consider biodegradable soap so you don’t have to carry out soapy dish water.

Plan out every meal for the duration of your stay. Stick with foods in compressible or burnable packages, such as freeze-dried meals. You can even precook meals, and then freeze and store them in an ice chest. No-prep foods like cereal, trail mix and high-calorie energy bars can keep your hunger satisfied through the long day.

Don’t forget the beer and water, either. Expect to drink about a gallon of water every day — and if you drink alcohol, bring extra water to stay hydrated. Also, plan out how much water you need to use for meals, baths and other miscellaneous tasks. Some people bring 100 gallons of water and pack the gray water out. While this may be excessive, too much water is better than than too little. Get canned beers, liquor and mixers, and store them in an ice chest because nobody likes hot drinks while in the desert.


Now for the fun part. One time-honored tradition of Burning Man is recreating yourself. Dress up in outlandish or silly costumes to be part of the crazy culture. Dress up as a huge glass of beer, your favorite superhero, a pirate or a sexy nurse. Remember, hot days are no fun in thick clothes, so choose costumes that are light and breathable.


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